The protesters and police came to blows with each other on the 100th day of the agitation.

Protest against Sterlite plant turns violent police demonstrators clash in TN
news Protests Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 13:31

On a day when the agitation against the Sterlite plan in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi entered the 100th day, the protests turned violent on Tuesday.  

According to multiple reports, at least one protester died in the violence, however, the Collector, refused to confirm this. Many others have also been injured.

Protesters also ransacked the Collector’s office, with black smoke engulfing the area, as demonstrators burnt tyres.

Visuals from the ground showed police officials charging at protesters with lathis even as protesters pelted stones at the police. Images also show protesters and police in a tense standoff with barricades between them.

Thousands and thousands converged to protest on Tuesday, state local media, with reporters pointing out that the police was not equipped to control the crowds.

According to some reports, DMK cadre joined the protesters on the 100th day of the protest and attempted to stage a dharna outside the Thoothukudi Collector's office. However, the police detained the cadre and protesters following which Section 144 was imposed in and around the SIPCOT area where the plant is located.

 

"The protests began at around 10 am today. The violence was started by the police who lathi charged us. They manhandled even children and women. We started throwing stones to protect ourselves. There were no party people or politicians involved. We are the residents of Thoothukudi who want an end to the pollution by Sterlite," says 43-year-old Kittu, who was part of the protests.

According to one report, angry protesters marched from Madathur to the Collector's office. In order to stop the march, the police began cordoning off the roads. However, the protesters went ahead, resulting in a clash between them.

The DMK has hit out strongly against the ruling AIADMK government over the tense situation in Tuticorin.

In his Twitter account MK Stalin wrote: "ADMK Government is responsible for the violence in Tuticorin. They never bothered to find a solution to the people's problem in that area. They were negligent. I strongly condemn the govt for not providing adequate security despite knowledge of the protest beforehand. In wake of these protests, TN govt should immediately ensure closure of sterlite plant"

"This seems like an effort by the police to stop protests against Sterlite. Discussion are required in this matter. People have carried out a huge revolution but police have turned it violent. They have even shot people and this regrettable. I condemn the actions of the police," said DMK working President MK Stalin.

Background

Beginning in February this year, hundreds of women, men and children have been protesting against the proposed expansion plans of the Vedanta owned copper smelter.

In March this year, thousands of protesters came together and protested peacefully at the Chidambaram Nagar bus stand in the district. The protesters included activists who have opposed the plant for over two decades and villagers from Kumarattiyapuram village.

Villagers in the area have been protesting against noxious gas leaks and bad effluent management for over two decades over environmental dangers.

Speaking to the media, Fathima Babu of the Anti Killer Sterlite People's Movement earlier said, "There are lot of environmental dangers as well as health dangers, particularly cancer. Almost every house is affected by cancer. Children are most affected. Throat cancer has increased. Eye cancer has also gone up. All this is strange and shocking. We have taken the decision that this district can no longer tolerate this. We have entered the field. The trader's association has played a big role today by shutting shop and striking."

"Copper smelters are very polluting industries. They lead to the release of sulphur dioxide and dust particles in the air. In addition to this, a plant such as this will require a lot of surface water and resources, which should go for agriculture. Drinking water supply will be depleted," environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman had earlier told TNM.

In 2013, the Sterlite copper plant was fined by the Supreme Court for polluting the land and water in the area on account of a gas leak. The apex court also slammed the plant for operating without requisite permits for a considerable period of time.

 

 

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